Moving Forward: Acupuncture Benefits for Pandemic Related Issues: Anxiety, Stress, Fatigue, etc.
There is much talk of life returning to “normal,” which is great. People feeling comfortable doing more things and seeing more people are all great things. This is also an opportunity to not just get back to the things we enjoy but to move forward into a life we enjoy. A life with less suffering. How are you going to move forward?
Many people may be facing a situation that is holding them back from moving forward. They may be dealing with lasting COVID-19 symptoms or may be experiencing symptoms that may be related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Acupuncture can help address these varying issues that may be causing imbalance in your body. From my experience, most people are dealing with stress and anxiety from the pandemic. Even though things are changing, our bodies hold onto stress and anxiety and can have difficulty releasing it with just thoughts alone. We develop these patterns of thinking and can get trapped in only seeing things a certain way. Acupuncture treatments can be helpful in breaking that destructive cycle and freeing your body from the holds of stress and anxiety. Physical manifestations of stress and anxiety can be tension in the neck, tops of shoulders, sleep issues, headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, racing heart, and more. We may mentally be saying, “I’m not stressed,” but our body is having one or more of these physical manifestations because it hasn’t received the message.
Homeostasis with Acupuncture
Homeostasis “refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival” (1) This article from Scientific American goes on to say, “It is important to emphasize that homeostatic reactions are inevitable and automatic if the system is functioning properly, and that a steady state or homeostasis may be maintained by many systems operating together.”(1) The body is constantly seeking homeostasis and performing many different functions to maintain this steady state. An article in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies describes the function of acupuncture as follows, “Acupuncture does not directly eliminate pathogenic factors or pathological tissue; rather, acupuncture enhances the ability of the human body to self-medicate itself by activating complex regulatory systems and by maintaining physiological homeostasis to prevent or treat diseases. From this point of view, the effect of acupuncture on the human body is more likely a kind of regulation to promote robustness. (2) The role of acupuncture is to aid the body in achieving and maintaining balance. There are many things that happen that affect our ability to maintain homeostasis, such as injury and illness, which many people are currently experiencing as a result of the pandemic.
The term homeostasis may also be applied in the social sciences, “It refers to how a person under conflicting stresses and motivations can maintain a stable psychological condition” (1). This is also very important in one’s well being and may be aided with the use of acupuncture. In times of stress or emotional disturbance, we can feel out of balance and unable to achieve stability.
The nervous system regulates homeostasis. The nervous system receives signals from the sense organs and acts accordingly in order to maintain a stable state. (3). The sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) are the two sides of the autonomic nervous system that contrast each other to maintain balance. In acupuncture, this can be represented by yin (PNS) and yang (SNS). One of the main functions of acupuncture is restoring the balance between yin and yang. “Emerging evidence indicates that acupuncture treatment not only activates distinct brain regions in different kinds of diseases caused by imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic activities, but also modulates adaptive neurotransmitter in related brain regions to alleviate autonomic response." (4)
We are constantly sending signals to our bodies, from what we think to how we move and breathe to what we smell and what we eat. Acupuncture and acupressure is another way to send a signal to our body. Imagine a map to your body that has been formulated from a thousand years of experience and observation, that says what area to stimulate to have a certain effect. Having nausea? Stimulate this point. It can be even more specific to your condition. Nausea from motion sickness may be a different point then nausea from pregnancy or nausea from food poisoning. Treatment for nausea in someone who is frail is different than someone who is robust. On top of that, the acupuncture points work together synergistically, almost like a code, making treatments by a trained practitioner even more individualized and effective. Combining the right points to address the root issue, enabling lasting results.
Acupuncture Treatment for Pandemic related Issues
An acupuncture treatment is very individualized to what is going on with you specifically, an acupuncturist will feel you pulse, look at your tongue, and palpate different areas of your body to get a clearer understanding of the disharmony you are experiencing. From there, the acupuncturist will use acupuncture points that will help your body to function at it’s optimal level. There are some overarching points that may be beneficial to many people experiencing an imbalance as a result of the pandemic. There is a group of points on the top of the thigh, Si Ma (4 horses) in Master Tung style acupuncture that are helpful in regulating the immune system and are helpful in treating skin issues and autoimmune issues. There is a pair of points in Kiiko style acupuncture that are helpful for balancing the nervous system and the pair varies based on which part of the autonomic nervous system is overactive. There is a three tiered treatment, from CT Holman’s teachings, for resolving emotional trauma which may be helpful for treating emotional trauma and PTSD as a result of the pandemic. These are just some examples of acupuncture treatments I would consider for patients dealing with pandemic related issues based on what issues they are experiencing. As mentioned before, points and groups of points would be used that would be beneficial to the individual patient. Depending on the severity of the issue and number of concurrent issues, a series of treatments would most likely be recommended with the outcome goal of returning to homeostasis and feeling comfortable in your body again and ready to move forward.
Acupuncture in Jenkintown
Some people may be facing a situation that is blocking them from achieving balance and harmony. As discussed earlier, we have all experienced many things this past year that may be disrupting our ability to maintain balance. If you are feeling “off” for some reason, emphasize sending the right signals to your body. This may be eating foods that aid your body, drinking plenty of water and limiting caffeine, exercising appropriately for your body, meditation, and other interventions such as acupuncture. With acupuncture, the needles can send the right signals and be the spark to get you back on track and feeling good. I hope you are doing well and having a nice Spring (despite being hit with a lot of pollen this season in the Northeast). Please reach out if you feel you are in need of that spark from acupuncture that will help you obtain and maintain balance and homeostasis in your body. My office in Jenkintown, PA is open by appointment.
All the best,